Microsoft officially re-unveiled 360 motion controller Natal last night, in a special pre-E3 2010 event. Except it didn't really, because Natal is now called Kinect (which we keep typing as 'Kinetic'), and because the event was less a press conference, more a huge confusing pile of excess and ribald insanity. So right now, there's a lot to take in regarding Kinect, and information has so far been scattered in shellshocked scraps across the four corners of the internet. But no longer!
I've ploughed through everything there is to know, hear and see, and collected it all together for you in one big feature. All the game, hardware and functionality details so far released are here, as is all the currently available video, and all the details on just how insane last night's event was. In short, everything you need to know. So read on and soak it up.
The Kinect pre-E3 event was not a press conference. It was an abstract maelstrom of performance art and horror which focused more on being pretty and self-conciously weird than it did giving away anything as trifling as pertinent information.
Above: Yes, this is actually happening. You are not having a flashback
Attendees were made to wear white ponchos with light-up shoulder pads which seemed to synch up with a light show in the ceiling, They were not allowed to sit down, and were eventually herded out of the way by militant Cirque du Soleil performers, to make way for a glowing elephant and a small boy dressed as Indiana Jones dancing on a giant Xbox 360 logo. Also, there was a gorilla covered in flowers.
All of this was juxtaposed with projected game footage and traditional 'family in the living room' lifestyle imagery, which leads me to one conclusion. If this is Microsoft's vision of the future of family life, everyone at that company can stay the hell away from my living room. I have a light coloured carpet and can do without the gorilla shit, however full of daisies it might be.
The games so far
Despite Microsoft's stormingly successful realisation of its lifelong goal of making the whole world go 'Huh?' while feeling a bit annoyed, it did actually find time to squeeze in a few games. Those demoed are as follows:
Above: It looks nice, but check out who moves first, player or Jedi. SUSPICIOUS!
Unnamed Star Wars game You know that non-existent lightsaber game everyone still uses as hope that the Wii will eventually be good for something apart from No More Heroes, Monster Hunter, and two first-party Nintendo games every five years? This is it. Your character has a lightsaber, and you use your hands to control the sexy VWWOMMM action. (Probably rigged) footage has been shown of stormtroopers and Darth Vader getting the red hot choppy-choppy treatment, and this is apparently one of a string of games coming from Lucasarts. Is it time to vainly ask for finger pointing point-and-click adventures now? Of course it is.
Joyride This is that Avatar karting game briefly shown off at last year's E3, now retooled for Kinect. You steer with your hands in a steering wheel position and thrust them forward to boost. Sound pretty good? Don't get too excited yet. We've heard that acceleration and braking are performed by leaning forward and back. If that's true, then the world's spine tramua specialists are going to have a new gaming injury on their hands to rival the glory days of Daley Thompson's Decathlon Wrist Syndrome.
Kinectimals Eyepet with real animals instead of an Eyepet. Erm, yay? No. No yay we think.
Kinect Sports Wii Sports with Avatars instead of Miis. Includes boxing, beach volleyball, bowling, table tennis, track and field and football (British, not American). Developed by Rare. Ladies and gentlemen, officially start mourning the N64 era now.
Above: USA Today has a quick look at the games
Kinect Adventures A mini-game collection. The only one shown so far is a white-water rafting game, which seems to be controlled by leaning and jumping. Two players can share a raft in co-op, and have to co-ordinate their movement for greater success. It's really pretty, and frankly looks okay as mini-games go. Definitely something you'd have a go on if you saw it in an arcade. If they still existed.
Dance Central Just Dance with.. Oh sod it, it's Just Dance. Though it's developed by Guitar Hero and Rock Band inventors Harmonix, so we're hoping it'll turn out to be more interesting than it sounds when we get more details.
Unnamed Yoga game Yup, Yoga. Hopefully it'll use Kinect to allow all kinds of arm-stretching, fire-breathing malarky, but we doubt it.
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